How not voting can be a very bad thing
News reports say an Arizona man was punished for not voting by way of his wife allegedly mowing him down with her Jeep, but in the future poll slackers could get dinged by insurers, too.
The wife was upset upon learning that her spouse failed to vote. She jumped in her vehicle and started chasing her husband, and told police she was trying to scare him, but hit the gas instead of the brake, according to reports. Her husband is in critical condition, and she has been charged with reckless driving, among other things, says the Phoenix New Times. (See: "Do you even know what reckless driving is?")
If recently awarded patents are any indication, people who don't vote may have more than disgruntled spouses to worry about – they may wind up paying more for car insurance.
Safeco Insurance of America recently received approval for patents on a system that would use voter registration and voter history to assess risk, and, typically, lower risk drivers get lower rates.
"Generally, an increase in voting frequency, such as an instance of recent voting, correlates with a decrease in risk of insurance loss," the patent application states. "Analysis of existing policy holder data has indicated a significant correlation between a person having voted at all and a lower likelihood that the person will claim a loss. Furthermore, a person who has voted within the last 12 months has an even lower likelihood that the person will claim a loss."
It appears that agents could even be compensated for selling policies to registered voters, according the patent filing, which also hints that it may use the following metrics to flag those least likely to file a claim:
- Voter registration
- Recent voting
- Voting frequency
- Type of election (general, primary, special)
- Turnout for the election
- Voting method (early in person, Election Day in person, absentee)
If voter behavior becomes another factor insurers consider when setting your rate, it will join a host of others already in play during the underwriting process. For instance, insurance companies already base your rate, in part, on your ZIP code, gender and age. They also take into account your driving record, the model of car you drive, and in some states, your credit history. (See: "Learn how car insurance rates work – and how to save money.")
Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's.
Follow him on Twitter @destoups